Posted: Monday April 23, 2012 3:06PM ; Updated: Monday April 23, 2012 3:06PM
Eric Mack
Eric Mack>INSIDE FANTASY BASEBALL

Humber's perfect moment unlikely to mark emergence of an ace

Story Highlights

Philip Humber unlikely to become star fantasy pitcher after perfect game

Francisco Liriano is worth stashing on rosters until he gets past poor start

Mike Napoli may hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs with the Rangers

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Philip Humber had a 9-9 record with a 3.75 ERA in 26 starts for the White Sox last season before throwing a perfect game Saturday.
Philip Humber had a 9-9 record with a 3.75 ERA in 26 starts for the White Sox last season before throwing a perfect game Saturday.
AP

You could have listed 100 names of the pitchers most likely to pitch a perfect game this season. Phil Humber's name wouldn't have been on it.

In fact, make a list of the 100 pitchers who can throw the next no-hitter. Humber's name shouldn't be on that list either.

There are 150 regular starting pitchers in baseball and Humber might be closer to the bottom third of those intriguing enough to own in fantasy.

While his perfect Saturday makes Humber one of the most-added players right now, he still should be waiver-wire fodder. Yes, he is a lot better than the Mets (who have never had a no-hitter in their franchise history, coincidentally) or Twins thought -- two teams that gave up on him -- but he is one of those arms you shuffle in and out of your lineup as needed.

Why isn't Humber trustworthy week in and week out for the long term? Well, for the same reasons he wasn't in SI.com's top 125 rankings in the preseason or wasn't in the top 125 on MockDraftCentral.com's average draft positions. Even after his perfect game and as hot as this start has been for him, he is still just 45th in scoring in a standard head-to-head points league that awards three points per inning.

Humber was once an elite prospect, an early first-round pick of the Mets, but he hasn't been able to sustain his stuff for extended periods of time. A year ago, his first semi-full season in the majors at the advanced age of 28, he was a solid 8-5 with a 3.10 at the All-Star break only to bust out the other way in the second half (1-4, 5.01). He posted an ERA of 6.00 in July and 5.27 in August. His career ERA in the second half (4.82) is over a run and a half higher than his first half.

We should expect a similar regression this season, particularly after the smashing success he was in fantasy Week 3.

This should be reminded because the numbers in small sample sizes tend to distort things early on in fantasy. It can lead to fantasy owners making mistakes in trades or add-drops.

Don't be a knee-jerk.

Sure, Humber is worth a look-see coming off a perfect game. But you shouldn't add him at the expense of an arm Humber was once traded for: Johan Santana. Or even, gasp, struggling Twins starter Francisco Liriano.

Santana is coming off shoulder surgery, not to mention one of the worst starts of his once-illustrious career, and he has pitched just 11 1/3 innings through three starts. That is just a little over a handful more outs than Humber recorded consecutively in one game.

Liriano, meanwhile, easily is the worst pitcher in all of fantasy right now, starter or reliever. There have been 157 pitchers who have made a start thus far this season -- with a few more to come, namely Jarrod Parker of the A's on Wednesday (heck, pick him up over Humber, too!). Liriano is 157th, dead last, in standard scoring among those starters.

"It doesn't look like he's pitching with too much confidence right now," manager Ron Gardenhire told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "We've said this over and over again, so we're going to step back to see what we need to do to try to get his confidence back and try to figure some things out with him."

Liriano can still get things figured out. If you don't have to start him in your active lineup right now, he is probably worth owning more than Humber, whose ceiling puts him ... well, merely worth owning in fantasy right now.

Liriano or Santana won't be pitching any no-hitters or perfect games this season. They are long shots to even finish off a complete game, shutout or not, at any point this season.

But, Humber's perfecto is a reminder just how skewed things can look in small sample sizes out of the gate. Week 4 of the fantasy season is still real, real early.

Player of the Week

C/1B Mike Napoli,Rangers -- It is not often you can top a pitcher tossing a perfect game, but Napoli went on a power tear fantasy owners usually can only dream about from their catcher position. A banged-up spring made Napoli a questionable No. 1 player at the catcher position, but a contract year, a great lineup and hitter's park combine to make him a candidate for 30 homers again and perhaps even 100 RBI for the first time in his career.

Player of the Weak

SP Francisco Liriano, Twins -- Here is a contract year player going wrong, unlike Napoli. We warned that the Tommy John surgery survivor was a poor choice in his two-start Week 3, because he was facing the Yankees and the Rays. Hindsight makes it look like we shouldn't trust Liriano against anyone right now. Still, he is worth stashing if you don't have to have him in your lineup blowing up your ERA and WHIP. There is still some shred of hope, even if it looks like you're hoping against hope.

Roster trends

Most added

1. OF Nolan Reimold, Orioles -- He came up with some fantasy fanfare and he is just now finally catching on. He can sustain this and is a legit add in mixed leagues.

2. SP Bartolo Colon, A's -- As pointed out in Friday's pitching review, Colon has the potential to produce great numbers in stretches this season. Don't consider him a great full-season option, though, at his age.

3. C A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox -- One of fantasy's more underrated backstops is off to arguably the best start of his career, near the end of it. This production won't last, so sell high if someone is overreacting to fix their slow-starting catcher position.

4. SP Phil Humber, White Sox -- A perfect game gets him added, sure, but there are as many as 75 pitchers, maybe 100, with better potential to help to your fantasy team going forward.

5. OF Luke Scott, Rays -- We have seen power surges from him before. While the pop in his bat is legit, his streakiness almost assures he will wind up back on the waiver wire in mixed leagues.

Most dropped

1. CL Brian Wilson, Giants -- With him out for the season, the closer's role and been handed to Santiago Casilla (mostly). Sergio Romo can join the mix later, perhaps, if he proves healthy, or the Giants can turn to their prospect in Triple-A down the road.

2. SP Francisco Liriano, Twins -- While this writer is still a huge Liriano apologist, we did say don't dare try him against the Yankees and Rays last week. Those were two dangerous opponents.

3. OF John Mayberry, Phillies -- He is hitting .175 with a strikeout around every third at-bat. The breakout candidate can still come around, but he isn't worth owning in mixed leagues right now, much less starting.

4. C Geovany Soto, Cubs -- Of his six hits, three were for extra bases. Yes, the power is intriguing at the position, but he costs you dearly in inconsistency and a low batting average. Welcome to fantasy replacement level, Mr. Soto.

5. SP Jeff Samardzija, Cubs -- He probably deserves a pass on his past start but we really shouldn't give him our complete trust in the starting lineup outside of deeper NL-only leagues.

Most traded: buy, sell, hold

1. SP Michael Pineda, Mariners -- It is looking more and more like the Yankees might have acquired damaged goods, and to think we thought the Yankees were pulling one over on the Mariners. HOLD

2. SP David Price, Rays -- He isn't off to a great start, but he is healthy and still can build up for the best season of his young career. Consider the mediocre start an opportunity to: BUY

3. SP Mat Latos, Reds -- He has gotten off to an awful start, but he and the Reds figure to go on a tear this summer. You will regret selling him at his lowest value right now. BUY

4. 3B Mike Moustakas, Royals -- A great finish to last season set him up to be a breakthrough this year. This is still one of the burgeoning superstars of fantasy. BUY

5. SP Jon Lester, Red Sox -- He has yet to pick up a victory, but only one start was really poor. He should still be considered a must-have and must-start in all leagues. BUY

Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. If you miss his Monday baseball trends, Wednesday prospect report or Friday pitching review, you can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).

 
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